SC directs Karnataka govt to form panel to look into SJM mutt affairs | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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SC directs Karnataka govt to form panel to look into SJM mutt affairs

By, Bengaluru
Feb 28, 2024 01:38 AM IST

On December 13, 2022, the state government appointed retired IAS officer PS Vastrad as the mutt’s administrator

In a significant development regarding the administration of the Sri Jagadguru Murugharajendra (SJM) mutt, the Supreme Court has intervened by issuing an interim order directing the Karnataka government to form a panel to oversee the mutt affairs.

The case was registered against Sharanaru at the Nazarbad police station in Mysuru (HT)
The case was registered against Sharanaru at the Nazarbad police station in Mysuru (HT)

The apex court issued a notice to the Karnataka state government on Tuesday, directing them to appoint a committee to oversee Muruga mutt affairs. The directive, issued by the SC bench headed by justice Vikram Nath, also ordered the state government to ensure that no accused individuals should be part of the committee. The court has emphasized the importance of a prompt response from the government within two weeks. Additionally, the court has strictly prohibited Pocso (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) accused Shivamurthy Muruga Sharanaru from heading the SJM mutt and SJM Vidya Peeta.

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The backdrop to this legal intervention is that SJM mutt pontiff Sharanaru is currently out on conditional bail and operating from Davanagere.The high court had granted bail to the seer on November 8 in two cases related to the sexual assault of two high school girls. He was arrested on September 1, 2022.

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The case was registered against Sharanaru at the Nazarbad police station in Mysuru. The survivors, who were both minors, were studying in an educational institution run by SJM Vidya Peeta and had alleged sexual harassment and rape by Sharanaru. After being released from jail, Sharanaru stayed in the Davanagere branch of the mutt and took charge as the president of the mutt, overseeing mutt affairs.

On December 13, 2022, the state government appointed retired IAS officer PS Vastrad as the mutt’s administrator. However, the appointment was challenged by the mutt, and the high court revoked it. As a temporary arrangement, the high court on July 4, 2023, appointed the Chitradurga sessions judge to oversee mutt affairs. After Sharanaru’s release, he appealed to the court, expressing his intent to manage the mutt affairs. Subsequently, the court granted his plea and withdrew the session judge’s administration from the mutt.

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“Hearing a petition filed by former minister and devotee of the mutt G Ekanthaiah, the Supreme Court restrained Murugha Sharanaru from interfering in mutt affairs and directed the state government to appoint a committee within the next three days,” advocate for the plaintiff Aparna Bhat said. “Under the Religious Institutions (Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1988, the SC passed the order and directed the government to submit a response within the next 15 days,” she added.

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